A recent typhoon that brought heavy rains and floods to southern China has also caused an unusual problem: escaped crocodiles. According to the China Daily newspaper, more than 70 crocodiles managed to break free from a commercial farm in Maoming, a city about 340 kilometers southwest of Hong Kong. The farm is located near a lake that overflowed due to the typhoon, allowing the reptiles to swim away.
The crocodiles are bred for their skin and meat, which are used in some parts of southern China for fashion and traditional medicine. Some of the animals are over two meters long and weigh more than 100 kilograms. The local authorities have warned the public to stay alert and avoid fishing or spending time outdoors in the affected areas.
Search and rescue operation underway
The local emergency management office has launched an operation to recapture the crocodiles, with the help of the police, the agriculture bureau, and the forestry bureau. Some of the animals have been caught, but others may have escaped into nearby ponds and rivers. The officials are considering shooting the crocodiles if they pose a bigger threat to the public safety.
A video published by the Beijing News showed responders in red uniforms searching the flooded fields in rescue boats. Other images showed several crocodiles lying on the road, their jaws bound with red tape. No one has been hurt by the crocodiles so far, but the situation remains tense and uncertain.
Typhoon Haikui wreaks havoc in the region
The crocodile escape is one of the many consequences of Typhoon Haikui, which hit southern China last week. The storm brought sustained heavy rains to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other areas, causing power outages, landslides, and traffic disruptions. In Hong Kong, the typhoon recorded the heaviest rainfall since 1884, with more than 500 millimeters of rain in some places. Two people died in the eastern province of Fujian due to the floods.
In Guangdong, the province where Maoming is located, the typhoon triggered a flood warning and affected more than 1.5 million people. The city of Shenzhen reported the most rainfall in a 12-hour period since 1952. The typhoon also damaged crops, houses, and infrastructure, resulting in economic losses of more than 2 billion yuan ($310 million).